I received word last night from Bob Fireovid who maintains the site, Controlling Growth in Our Communities, that a group in the Charlottesville, Virginia area has had set aside by their county board of supervisors $25,000 in funding, with preliminary approval that it be applied toward a study to determine an optimal sustainable population for their community.
Though they have more steps to complete to secure this and more funding, this is a breakthrough with regard to urban growth control and the the need to recognize limits to growth. The group, Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population (ASAP), one of the most active and forward thinking local groups addressing urban growth, has been working toward this for some time.
According to the email forwarded to me, this may be the first time a local government in the US has voted to approve funds for such research.
In my view, other communities should follow ASAP’s and Albemarle County’s lead on this. And communities which have in place other measures to limit growth, might do well to add a population cap based on such research.
On the local level this kind of work helps to preserve a town’s or an area’s character and quality of life. On a broader level, the more communities implement policies to limit growth, especially including specific population limits, the more a message is sent to those on national levels that people do not want continued population growth.
Here are some other groups working in similar veins:
- Citizens for Responsible Community Planning — Kelowna, B.C., Canada
- Save the Springs — Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
- Pro-whatcom.org — Bellingham, Washington, USA
Here are some additional websites:
- Sprawl City — Much information on the combined contributions of consumption growth and population growth to the production of sprawl.
- Growth Education Movement — Works to educate and inform on the topics of population growth and sprawl. Edwin Stennett’s book, In Growth We Trust, is an excellent introduction to these topics.
Required reading on the subject of limiting urban growth:
- Better, NOT Bigger — By Eben Fodor. The best introduction and overview.
- Growth Management for a Sustainable Future — By Gabor Zovanyi. A superb follow-up to the Fodor book.
All these groups and books see through the oxymoron of “smart growth” to recognize that, at some point, growth simply has to stop. That’s true from the local level to the global. It’s great to see groups like ASAP achieving some concrete success toward restoring sanity to the arena of urban policy and the question of growth.
Image source: ASAP logo, used with permission